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Friday, January 12, 2018

X-amining Excalibur #71

"Crossing Swords"
 November 1993

In a Nutshell
"Fatal Attractions" conclude as Excalibur helps heal Colossus' head injury.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencilers: Ken Lashley, Darick Robertson & Matthew Ryan
Inkers: Cam Smith, Randy Elliot, Randy Emberlin, Mark Nelson
Letterers: Bill Oakley, Pat Brosseau, Dave Sharpe
Colors: Joe Rosas
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Excalibur helps round up the prisoners who escaped from Muir Island as a result of Magneto's recent EM blast. Just then, Professor X, Cyclops & Jean Grey arrive on the island, needing Shadowcat's help. Xavier believes that Colossus' may be suffering brain damage as a result of a recent injury, and wants Shadowcat to lure him to the island so they can heal the wound, in the hopes that he will then leave the Acolytes and return to the X-Men. She reluctantly agrees, and when he teleports to the island, Excalibur manages to capture him. Meanwhile, Cable arrives on the island, looking for revenge on the Acolytes, and ends up fighting with Phoenix. As the X-Men manage to heal Colossus' injury, a group of Acolytes appear, looking for Colossus. A fight breaks out, but it ends once Colossus calls it off. Fully healed, he nonetheless decides to return to Avalon with the Acolytes, and bids a sad farewell to Kitty before teleporting away. In the wake of his departure, Nightcrawler announces that Excalibur is going to stay on Muir Island, helping Moira with her work while trying to stop problems before they become disasters.

Firsts and Other Notables
The final chapter of "Fatal Attractions", the premise of this issue is that the head injury Colossus' suffered during his fight with the X-Cutioner in Uncanny X-Men Annual #17, which prevented him from transforming back to flesh, is essentially causing him brain damage, which Xavier believes may be the reason he quit the X-Men to join the Acolytes. The combined efforts of Excalibur, Xavier and Cyclops manage to heal the wound, allowing Colossus to return to his human form, but he insists he's not suffering from brain damage, and ultimately decides to stay with the Acolytes.

As such, we see him wearing one of the Acolyte uniforms for the first time in this issue (even though he appears in his old X-Men costume in X-Men #26, which takes place after this issue).


This issue also marks a new direction for the series; with the book officially moved under the editorial auspices of the larger X-office with issue #68, here, the core "previously, on X-Men" characters left standing (Nightcrawler, Shadowcat and Phoenix) decide to move the team to Muir Island and work directly with Moira MacTaggert, inspired by their work healing Colossus (which, it's worth noting, Nightcrawler & Phoenix had little to do with, and which ultimately failed, because he stayed with the Acolytes). Phoenix also talks about trying to solve problems before they become disasters, which sounds a little like X-Force's initial "hit them before they hit us" theoretical proactivism, but that's not really how this will play out here.

Nigthtcrawler presents a tortured metaphor attempting to link the sword Excalibur (which the team took as inspiration when they formed) to a medical scalpel, but it's really just a hamfisted way to give some thematic and in-universe resonance to what is, ultimately, a business decision: the book is, editorially, part of the X-franchise now, and its days of existing off on its own are over; from now on, the series will be more tightly connected to the rest of the X-books, participating in their crossovers, featuring guest stars, plot lines and villains culled more directly from the X-universe, etc.


To that end, this issue also finishes the job of excising all the non-X-Men characters from the series, most of which were introduced by Alan Davis during his solo run. Captain Britain was already lost, and the previous story wrote out Cerise (and to a lesser extent, Meggan & Feron). Here, Nightcrawler reveals that Kylun has left to continue his search for his parents, while Micromax has gone to America to take a job as the head of security for the Brand Corporation (the company for which Beast worked when he first turned blue-and-hairy). Both Meggan and Captain Britain will return to the series in a few issues (while Phoenix will be written out), returning at least 4/5th of the book's original cast to its pages, but (a few random appearances, mostly the series' final issue, aside) this pretty much marks the end of relevance for the "secondary" members of the team.


As Nightcrawler makes his big declaration about the change of the team's focus, we get a splash page showing the remaining members in new costumes, with Nightcrawler (mostly) back in his classic look (with the red V), Phoenix trading the red-and-gold Phoenix costume for the blue-and-gold X-Men colors, and Shadowcat trading her longtime blue puffy sleeve costume for a variation on the blue-and-gold training uniform that will be her default look for the rest of the series (and carry over when she eventually returns to the X-Men).


Rachel and Jean Grey, who have met before but have always had something of a rocky relationship (with Jean more or less freaked out by having returned from the dead to discover she had a teenaged daughter from an alternate timeline hanging around) reconcile this issue, with Jean apologizing to Rachel and more or less embracing her. Though Rachel will soon be written out of the series (and the X-books) for a good long chunk of time, this reconciliation will stick, with Rachel eventually adopting the "Marvel Girl" codename in honor of her "mother".


Their reconciliation gives Jean an opportunity to tease her upcoming proposal to Cyclops, making this the first direct hint of their wedding, which will occur in a few months' time (in X-Men #30, with the proposal happening in Uncanny X-Men #308).


There's a weird moment in that scene, with Jean telling Rachel if things go as planned, there's a good chance Rachel could soon be conceived in this timeline/reality, which is what prompts Rachel to realize Jean is going to propose. My initial reading of the scene made it seem like Rachel was saying Jean would only have a kid if she was married, which seems like both something Rachel wouldn't know, if Jean believed that, and also something never before established about Jean. But thinking about it, I think it's supposed to mean that since Scott & Jean were married when Rachel was conceived born, in her timeline, they'd have to be married for her to be conceived in this one (all of which, of course, is pointless, because time travel in the Marvel Universe creates alternate realities and Rachel knows this, so even if Scott & Jean got married and had a daughter and named her Rachel, she still wouldn't be *this* Rachel Summers).

In something of a random subplot, Cable guest stars in this issue, ostensibly coming to Muir Island because he tracked the Acolytes' teleportation signature and is looking for revenge after the injuries Magneto inflicted on him in X-Force #25. Aside from also calling back a previous plot point of the crossover, this is really just an excuse to get genetic siblings Cable & Phoenix to interact with each other directly for the first time since readers learned they are related. 


During their fight, Rachel briefly manifests the costume and body of Captain Britain; this is setting up the events of issue #75, in which the two will trade places in the timestream and Captain Britain becomes Brittanic.


Kitty refers to previous interactions with Xavier as having occurred when she was a minor, suggesting she is at least 18 at this point in time. This will become important in regards to a future storyline in this series, even if its ultimately shown to be incorrect (comic book ages are always difficult to pin down, especially when it comes to Kitty, but she is most likely still under 18 at this point; she celebrated only her 15th birthday on-panel in issue #24).


Shadowcat, phasing through Muir Island's various levels, stumbles across a bunch of "alien stuff" she doesn't recognize, but moves past it, saying its a mystery for another time. This sure seems like a setup for a future story, but as far as I can recall, "weird alien stuff in the Muir Island basement" never gets mentioned again.


Acolyte Amelia Voight refers to herself as an "ancestor of sorts" to the X-Men; this is a reference to the backstory that will be established in Uncanny X-Men #309, when her history with Xavier is explored and its revealed that she was living with him when he decided to form the X-Men (and that his decision to do so is what drove them apart).

The issue closes with a "family photo" pinup by Darick Robertson, in which Lockheed is incorrectly colored green.


Nightcrawler is featured on this issue's hologram.


Collection Recollection
This is the first issue of Excalibur I bought off the stands back in the day (and the first issue of this series, aside from the introductory special edition, that I'd read prior to reading it for my X-aminations review), and it became part of my standard monthly buy after this, making this the point at which I was buying all the X-books in real time. I picked it up because of the crossover, and stuck with it because the new direction made it clear this was officially one of the X-books now, and, as a fan of the X-Men, I couldn't not be buying all their books, right?

I remember buying it at the Mall of America, back when it had not one, not two, but three separate stores that sold comic books (that's a "Grim 'n' Gritty 90s" reference right there...) while hanging out with some friends, specifically the wall-mounted kiosk on the third floor (across from where the Jimmy Buffet restaurant is now) which functioned kind of like an old city street newsstand (it was owned and operated by the nearby Comic Book College comic book shop). After the comic book market crashed and all the comic book-selling stores left the mall, a number of different shops went through the space where the Comic Book College satellite store had been, including a golf shop I worked at for two summers in high school, where I spent most of my days standing behind the register, reading comics.

Being a cash-strapped pre-teen, I only had enough money with me to buy this issue or Gambit #1, which were the two new issues the stand had that I hadn't already bought at one of my more regular shops. I remember agonizing over the decision (because I had never bought Excalibur before, whereas I was twelve and reading X-Men so Gambit was the coolest thing walking), but ultimately came away happy with my decision (especially once I finally did buy and read the first issue of that Gambit limited series...). 

Creator Central
Joe Madureira draws the cover to this issue, while the interior art is kind of a mess, featuring three pencilers and four inkers, with artists handling pages almost at random (like many issues around this time, this was terribly late).

The credits for this issue are listed in that weird "negative print" style that Marvel apparently thought was super cool around this time, making them nigh-unreadable.


The Chronology Corner
Cable appear here after X-Force Annual #2, before X-Force #27. Xavier, Cyclops & Jean Grey appear between X-Men Annual #2 and Avengers #368 (setting this story before "Bloodties").

A Work in Progress
Spoor, captured by X-Factor in the first chapter of "Fatal Attractions", has been transferred between issues to Muir Island for treatment (he apparently has a psychologicial death wish, which leads him to use his pheremone powers to try to get people to kill him).


He is one of several prisoners said to have escaped from the island's holding facilities as a result of Magneto's EM pulse, though he's the only one we see.


The fact that Professor X couldn't be bothered to pop over and say hi to his three former students in Excalibur after returning from space is referenced.


Colossus seems to be reconciling his continued involvement with the Acolytes despite their past crimes by saying those atrocities were committed under Cortez' leadership. While he's not wrong, it still doesn't change the fact that he's willingly hanging out with people who were willing to commit the atrocious acts Cortez asked them too (also, his assertion that Exodus is a better leader will prove laughable given how Exodus is presented in "Bloodties").


When Nightcrawler complains to Cyclops about his team falling apart from underneath him, Cyclops mentions the time the X-Men split up and went their separate ways (following the Silver Age death of Xavier, before the Roy Thomas/Neal Adams run), a rare callback to that brief and mostly unmemorable era of the team's history.


Rachel uses her little-used temporal powers to shift herself a few seconds ahead in time, something which Cable & Professor apparently know as a "Time Tripper" ability.


Rachel is able to telepathically "hear" Professor talking to Cable.


It's established here that Katu (introduced originally as part of Cortez's royal guard, but here working just as a regular Acolyte) has the power to be a "conduit for inter-atmospheric anomalies", whatever the hell that means, which is a pretty good representation of the kind of pseudo-science claptrap that passed for powers in the 90s (ie nobody just "controls fire" or "shoots lasers" or "is superhumanly fat" anymore). Nightcrawler also makes a joke about generic some of the Acolytes are.


Lobdell further hangs a lampshade on the general vagueness/ubiquity of a lot of the Acolytes by having Cyclops make a joke about how he's never seen Katu actually use his power.


In one of the more effective scenes of the issue, after his wound his healed and he reverts to human form, Colossus breaks down and exposes what's really been eating at him: the feeling that he failed his sister, that he should have been there for her, both in a general "make her better" sense and more literally, at the moment of her death. Given that he wasn't with her when she died because he was fighting Fitzroy in Dallas, it's easy to see how he drew a line from that to "walk away from the X-Men".


Ultimately, Colossus decides to stay with the Acolytes in order to highlight the depths of Magneto's teachings (ie that he wasn't just all about the wanton slaughter humans), which is all well and good (and it's worth noting that Colossus is one of the handful of X-Men who actually fought by Magneto's side for a time when he was headmaster of the school in Xavier's absence), but it doesn't change the fact that the vast of majority of the Acolytes are themselves genocidal killers, who, whether on Cortez's orders or not, have murdered people, and not only is Colossus standing by them, Excalibur and the X-Men present are letting the Acolytes peacefully teleport away.


Austin's Analysis
"Fatal Attractions" comes to a close with something of a whimper, as, in terms of narrative incident, this is the quietest issue of the crossover since the first, focused on one specific plot point from the story (Colossus' defection) and little else (it's also something of a mess, artistically: Uncanny #304 could sell its multiple artists as an anniversary jam kind of thing; here, with artists coming in and out of pages seemingly at random, it's harder to argue anything other than deadline issues are at work. Meanwhile, Cable more or less disappears halfway through the issue, is utterly superfluous to the story). Giving Colossus' decision to join the Acolytes some room to explore makes sense, and while it's still ultimately a questionable decision (walking away from Xavier's makes sense given the circumstances; throwing in with the genocidal Acolytes instead, less so) that could have easily been waved away with "brain damage" caused by his injury from the X-Cutioner, it ultimately serves the story better for that to a narrative feint/wishful thinking on the part of the X-Men. If Colossus is going to leave the X-Men for Magneto, then it needs to be a decision he makes with a clear mind, and not as the result of a brain injury, mind control, etc.

But while work to lure Colossus to Muir Island and "cure" him represents this issue's contributions to "Fatal Attractions", it is ultimately more about setting up the new status quo for the series, one which reflects the book's new place within the larger X-office, and it is packed with incidents that matter specifically to this series: Rachel & Jean reconciling, Rachel & Cable interacting, Kitty calling out Xavier's behavior, the last non-X-Men team members getting written out, new costumes, and a new direction. This in and of itself isn't a bad idea - once the X-Men dropped the whole "fake death" ruse, it made little sense for this series to remain as removed from the rest of the X-books as it was, and the premise here, of Excalibur serving, essentially, as Moira MacTaggert's X-Men, makes as much sense and has as much potential to generate stories as the previous one in which the team was supposed to be a kind of European Avengers (though they rarely were, because the creators instead kept dropping them into drawn-out whacky adventures that worked on the strengths of the creators involved).

However, it's unclear exactly why that also requires the complete departure from the book of everyone who wasn't previously a member of the X-Men. While the cast could probably have used some trimming, almost all of the characters written out over the last four issues have ways in which they could work in the new status quo: Kylun & Micromax are mutants, Cerise is Shi'ar, while Captain Britian & Meggan are founding members of the team (and, granted, both will be brought back into the fold soon). Really, only Feron is extraneous. While the desire to integrate this series more firmly into the X-universe is appreciated, then and now, the decision to do so by jettisoning so much of the book's previous history is also unfortunate.

Next Issue
Next week: Sabretooth gets a new status quo in X-Men Unlimited #3, "Bloodties" continues in Avengers West Coast #101, and the world is in danger in Wolverine: Global Jeopardy.

20 comments:

  1. This was my first issue of EXCALIBUR, too -- and my last until a year later, when I picked up the "Phalanx Covenant" installment. I didn't become a regular reader until partway into Warren Ellis's run (around the time Colossus joined the team, actually) -- though for some odd reason I did read X-CALIBRE during "Age of Apocalypse". I also read GAMBIT AND THE X-TERNALS, as I think about it, even though I didn't read X-FORCE. Though I didn't touch the other AoA version of the books I didn't read. I had odd habits back then.


    So something occurred to me as I read your analysis above... I rarely had problems with comics in the 90s, even with stuff many other people hated -- the Clone Saga, certain questionable X-stuff, etc. I think I had (and still have) an extremely selective short-term memory when reading this material. I would roll with pretty much anything back then, without really questioning it. Colossus abandons the X-Men for the Acolytes? Well, his sister died, so whatever -- makes sense to me. Oh, he had a head injury when it happened? I didn't know that, but I guess if you want to use it to explain his betrayal, that's fine. Professor X loses it and mindwipes Magneto? Sure, why not? Wolverine has bone claws? Checks out.

    The X-Men letting the Acolytes go here was fine with me as a teenager, was fine with me when I re-read this stuff in my twenties, and was still fine with me when I read it again last month. Of course it makes our heroes look really bad when you bring up the fact that the Acolytes (or at least some of them) are genocidal monsters! But that's not mentioned in this story, and even though they had just done some truly horrific stuff in very recent history, those events had pretty much slipped out of my mind as I read this chapter. Literally, when you brought up the whole genocide thing, I thought, "Oh yeah, they wanted to kill that busful of children and they killed some poeple and crippled that nurse in the first part of this crossover. Huh." It's like this stuff is all in my head as continuity trivia, but I never think to apply it critically to the characters' choices.

    Of course, I'm reading these stories purely for entertainment... when I read things to review, I do try to look at them with a critical eye. But if I'm not actively trying to do it, then it just doesn't happen. Mind you, I will still notice gaping plot holes (I just finished "Bloodties" last night and cought one or two) and awful writing (I couldn't stand Terry Kavanagh even as a teenager, for example), but in terms of taking the story as it comes, it's like I just sort of turn off every critical part of my brain and roll with it.

    On one hand, this makes reading very enjoyable, but on the other hand, I don't know what it says about me!

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    1. Of course, I'm reading these stories purely for entertainment... when I read things to review, I do try to look at them with a critical eye. But if I'm not actively trying to do it, then it just doesn't happen.

      You're not entirely alone in this - certainly, when I'm reading (or watching) purely for entertainment, or for the first time, I don't always think through the full implications of what's happening (in fact, I'll often miss all but the most obvious plot holes if the story has pulled me in enough). Basically, I usually have to turn my critical eye "on", unless I'm consuming something really bad or really boring (or for a multiple time).

      I definitely didn't think through the full implication of Colossus standing by the Acolytes as a kid, at least not beyond the obvious "he quit the X-Men for Magneto!". Only as I got older, and started thinking about the story more critically, did I go, "wait a minute, the Acolytes aren't just philosophical opposites, they straight up murder people in cold blood. Even if Colossus wants to stick with them, the X-Men shouldn't let them just walk away!"

      Also in your defense, yeah, the Acolytes slaughtered all those humans in part 1 of this 6 part story, but that was also six months before this issue, which, in 1993, meant roughly several dozen issues' worth of story happened between those two events to make that a more distant memory. :)

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    2. Regarding the X-Men letting the Acolytes go- the X-Men have been letting villains go for ages at this point. In X-Men 193, the X-Men let Firestar go back to Emma Frost(!)- and Emma then forced Firestar into a situation where she had to fry a goon to protect her dad. In X-Men 194, Rachel and Rogue let the Juggernaut go and then wonder why the world hates them.

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  2. This was probably the second issue of Excalibur I owned, the first being an installment of Phalanx Covenant. I thought I was dutifully following Fatal Attractions as it came out, but I'm not sure I even realized it concluded in this series. It didn't feel like I'd missed anything, and that's true to a degree - this capper functions as more of an extended epilogue, even with the second half of Wolverine #75 winding down the story. That's pretty ironic given my (dis)regard for Excal as "the one with Nightcrawler and that never crossed over" which gets flipped on its head with this very issue.

    It's staggering to me that Cable doesn't appear on the wraparound cover. That's a massive marketing oversight for 1993! I guess they were really banking on those holograms to sell these things, huh? Because, wow, that front cover hasn't got anything else going for it (with apologies to Rachel).

    Speaking of, Rachel being so invested in Scott and Jean having, well, "her" in this timeline is a bit uncomfortable and odd to say the least. Like, to the point that it reads like something she should be trying to work through. I never got the impression she thinks she's going to vanish if they don't have a kid, yet it's something she's always going back to that doesn't scan as especially healthy.

    As in the case of Captain Britain, I assumed Micromax and Ky'lun got proper send-offs in some fashion. Maybe not the multi-issue exit that Cerise received, but better than vanishing behind the scenes. That feels like a pacing problem, but now I realize Alan Davis only departed four issues ago. Lobdell had more characters to jettison than the number of issues to do it in, so I don't envy him having to fulfill that remit.

    Cyclops throwing shade at Katu's ill-defined powers before dropping him is rich considering Lobdell created the character. It still gets a chuckle.

    Those hints around the wedding and Amelia's past with Xavier feel like bombshells for this "inconsequential" title. Notably it has nothing to do with the history or core cast of this book, but furthers the aim of bringing it under the X-Men fold which increasingly is becoming one sprawling saga across its various titles.

    Kitty cradling Peter whilst he breaks down after reverting to human form for the first time in who knows how long is genuinely affecting. (His shaky reasoning for rejoining the Acolytes, less so.)

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    1. Good call on the cover. I'd never thought about it, but now that I'm looking, it fails in multiple ways from a marketing perspective. Not only is it missing Cable, but it puts the headline-worthy part (Colossus fighting the X-Men!) on the back, with the non-headline-worthy part (Rachel...just flying by herself) on the front.

      In fairness, the Joe Mad Nightcrawler hologram is pretty sweet. But still.

      -Jeff B

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    2. A counterpoint: "Friendship lost", with Rachel in full-on Dark Phoenix outfit on the cover may well be the last hurrah of the UNCANNY era #138-175 classic marketing trick of suggesting that The Dark Phoenix Returns. Funnily it's exactly the 10th anniversary of #175, cover date Nov 1983.

      The Fatal Attractions box is enough to get the newer readership to buy the issue. I present you all as the Exhibit A. :) Dark Phoenix is there to lure back in the 20 somethings.

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    3. I don't want to make too much of what possibly is mere coincidence, but that actually was the issue where Scott got married the previous time, and Rachel's stint in full Dark Phoenix regalia was in the end so short that in hindsight it seems like having been only done for the sake of the homageous joke of Dark Phoenix Rachel using the "Hi, missed me?" line from #175 in one the previous EXCALIBUR issues.

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  3. I assumed the idea was that Peter WAS brain damaged in X-Men 304- Lobdell wanted to stick with the joining the Acolytes plot but didn't want to go with the "Peter joins Magneto as he's about to kill the X-Men including Kitty" plot in X-Men 304 and wanted to attribute that to brain damage. Supposedly the problem was caused by Harras demanding the issue be rewritten to make Magneto more villainous, which made Peter joining Magneto go from "dumb but understandable" to "is Peter nuts?".
    "Kitty refers to previous interactions with Xavier as having occurred when she was a minor, suggesting she is at least 18 at this point in time. This will become important in regards to a future storyline in this series, even if its ultimately shown to be incorrect (comic book ages are always difficult to pin down, especially when it comes to Kitty, but she is most likely still under 18 at this point; she celebrated only her 15th birthday on-panel in issue #24)."
    In X-Men 303, Lobdell had Jubilee guess Kitty's age as 16 or 17. Maybe Lobdell was confusing being a minor with being above the age of consent for sex (which is very relevant to that future storyline)? The age of consent in Scotland was 16 at this point, so Kitty was almost certainly at least 16 in this story.

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    1. I find it highly unlikely than an editor at Marvel would put him-/herself in position on likely having to explain the difference of being a minor and the age of consent if and when the matter would come up in the letter col, and willingly prepare to then explain smugly that technically it's okay for Kitty to be having sex because she's in Scotland, even though in America her partner would land in prison for it.

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    2. I wish I could remember where I read this -- maybe in WIZARD? -- but in any case, there was an interview with Warren Ellis during his EXCALIBUR run where likened Kitty's relationship with Pete Wisdom to that of Princess Leia and Han Solo, with regards to age -- and in that comparison he said he believed Kitty to be at least eighteen (which I think he called "the proper age for a girl to do a lot of snogging with an older man"). So as far as Ellis was concerned, Kitty was eighteen.

      It's notable that Chris Claremont tried to rewind her to sixteen or whatever when he came back on the X-books and pretended nothing had changed in the years he'd been away -- but that didn't stick and Claremont himself later had Kitty working as a bartender while she was in college in X-TREME X-MEN -- again suggesting she was at least whatever age one must be to handle and serve alcohol in the U.S. (which I assume must be at least eighteen, if not twenty-one).

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    3. You might be thinking of HEROES magazine. They did a spotlight on the state of the X-books coming out of AoA. All that that sounds really familiar from the Excalibur portion. Specifically, the Ellis quote summing it all up: "Kitty gets f--ked" is what most stands out in my mind and was rather eye-opening to then-eleven-year-old me.

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    4. I don't know; I have no recollection of ever reading HEROES, but I suppose I could've seen it at a friend's house (though many of my friends were done with comics by 1996). My main recollection was Ellis's use of the word "snogging", which I'd never heard before. For years I assumed it was British slang for having sex, until, I think, when Harry Potter made me realize it meant kissing or making out.

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    5. Just to clarify in case someone goes looking for the article: I think Cyke68 is referring to Hero Illustrated.

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    6. Since it was too hard to resist, I searched for {"Hero Illustrated" "Warren Ellis" "Kitty Pryde"} and on the first page got a link to an old rec.arts.comics FAQ. If you do a find command on the page for "Kitty Pryde" the first hit after the outline is the section on her age, which brings up this very issue and states that in a Hero Illustrated interview "Warren Ellis says she's nearly 18, and her birthday 'will probably fall somewhere around Excalibur #94'."

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  4. Phoenix’s costume in blue hurts my brain.

    There’s a panel (nearly full-page) of Scott and Kurt discussing the amount of of technology amassed on Muir Island that I can only assume the penciler — Robertson, per the Marvel Wikia credit breakdowns — was left to design on his own. What he intended the setting to be, exactly, I don’t know, but it makes sense that he’d put Nightcrawler in a cool pose on the wall and throw in some action via Cyclops using his optic blast. Lobdell’s dialogue over the scene has Scott demonstrating that Moira’s surgical platform is what's getting zapped — for no apparent reason other than Scott being mighty impressed that it can withstand his awesome, terrible power.

    Given her friendship with Peter and Illyana, never mind her intelligence, Kitty musing that her married name could be “Katya Annalovitch Rasputin” is ridiculous. Scott Lobdell clearly just didn’t understand the use of patronymics. Kitty’s middle name is “Anna” but she’d only be “Katya Annalovitch” if “Anna” were her father’s name… and she were a boy. Since her father’s name is “Carmen” and she herself is female, Kitty’s name once Russified would be “Katya Carmenovna” (unless the rules further dictate that a natively Russian equivalent of her father’s name would have to be substituted the way “Kitty” is becoming “Katya”). [Also, I suspect the patronymic would only be used with her full first name, i.e., “Yekaterina Carmenovna” since her first name is actually “Katherine” but just “Katya” familiarly rather than “Katya Carmenovna”.]

    I had to look up Amelia Voght on Wikipedia to see how she could teleport Peter down to Earth when her mutant power is said to be transubstantiation.

    While it’s a dramatic way to set up Excalibur’s new status quo on Muir Island, Kurt rejecting Scott’s offer to fly him, Kitty, and Rachel back to England is kind-of dumb absent any suggestion they might want to, y’know, get any of their equipment or personal effects, check on Meggan and Feron, etc., particularly since the implication behind the offer of a ride is that their own aircraft isn’t there on Muir Island yet.

    Theoretical Proactivism is my new band name.

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    1. Unless Katya is taking a matronym in the classic acknowledgement of bastardry when her (real) dad's name is not known. This is probably why her parents divorced. Subtle developments.

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    2. The point is that "Anna" is Kitty's own middle name and "-ovich" means "son of" rather than "daughter of" — so "Annalovitch" makes no sense. Her father's name is "Carmen", her mother's name is "Theresa", and being female she would use "-ovna" (and/or "-evna" or apparently "-inichna" when the name taken ends in a vowel, per the Interwebs; male names could also be "-evich" or, again when the father's name ends in a vowel, simply "-ich"). My own father's name being "David", then, my patronymic would be "Davidovich" and my sister's would be "Davidovna", rather than anything to do with our actual legal middle names.

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    3. I completely missed the bit about Anna being her own second name and not her mother's because you deviously just wrote it openly out there (and in my insistence to fail acknowledging that Claremont has Anna/Anne for everyone's second name; there's Rachel Anne, and funnily in the film Rogue is Anna Marie), and I just glossed over the wrong gender version being used for the sake of pun in a very peculiar take on Pun with Pjotr.

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  5. I always assumed Lobdell decided to make Kitty an adult here-despite being vague about her age a few months earlier in Uncanny-to allow her to stand adult to adult with Xavier about his mistakes. It's no wonder Ellis wrote her as an adult: she had been called out as one here. And frankly, at this point, it had been 13 years since her introduction, and Kitty needed to grow up.

    That being said, nothing quite sums up the 90's X-Office quite like someone writing a character as a teenager and then aging her up a couple of years a few months later in real time, barely in time in story.

    I was also struck, when I read this and now, how every time the X-Office deigned to mention Chris Claremont these days, it sounded like a tribute to someone who died. And this time they got Alan Davis too!

    The next issue blurb with Siena Blaze, and the comments on the generic blank slates the Acolytes were, made me realize that she should have become their leader, because then you've got the greatest team of ill-defined super humans this side of a Rob Liefeld comic.

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  6. This was the second Excalibur issue I ever bought (I bought Excalibur #50 randomly over a year before in a Crown Books, I think), and it was likely due to (a) the hologram and connection to the Fatal Attractions crossover, which I had followed from the core X-books into Wolverine, and (b) Nightcrawler being a member of the team. Aside from what I'd read in the various X-Men trading card sets, I don't think I knew very much at all about Kitty and Rachel beforehand. For whatever reason, I was immediately drawn to Rachel in this issue and remain a fan of the character to this day. (The Dark Phoenix Saga is also, of course, one of my favorite stories of all time, but I yet to read it at this point.)

    This issue was a great jumping on point with the new direction, streamlined team, and the recap of the status quos for the departed team members. I began reading this title on a monthly basis after this issue in addition to Uncanny and X-Men, and it wouldn't be until after the Age of Apocalypse that I would begin picking up any of the other spinoff titles.

    I remember being shocked that Colossus did not return to the X-Men when given the chance and that his defection to the "bad guys" appeared to be permanent. As a 10-year-old new comic book reader, the regularity with which these sorts of things happen was unknown to me.

    I reread this issue about a year ago on Marvel Unlimited, and, of course, it didn't hold up to my memory of it, but it will always occupy a place in my heart given its role in sucking me into the X-Men universe.

    PS: We never saw Rachel's blue costume again, did we? I always assumed it was a coloring mistake.

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